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YA Books To Read If You Love Angsty Male Leads

Okay so after reviewing this list it became apparent that most of these books are fantasy and the majority about werewolves and vampires. My only definitive personality trait is how much I love Twilight so this makes sense. Also, hot, young adult angst is pretty much trademarked by our werewolf and vampire friends. And truly there is really just something about an emotionally tortured, self-brooding male lead that instantly hooks me, throw in some guys battling with their humanity, you have my attention. Anyways, this list is pretty indicative of my grasp on reality and my social life—for your sake, I hope it’s not contagious. 

1. The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I started this series when I was eleven years old and finished the first four books in a weekend when I was sick with the flu. It’s safe to say these books almost have as much or maybe more honestly of an effect on my life than Twilight. City of Bones is the first book in a five-book series and features a very angsty, a very hot demon warrior named Jace (which of course is a nickname because his full name has even more trauma attached to it). The entire series is him battling his trauma and chasing after a girl that he isn’t (or is he?) supposed to be with. If you enjoy reoccurring identity crises and some “Did I just kiss my sister?” moments than, 10 out of 10, definitely!

2. Switched by Amanda Hocking

Tyrells is a book series based on the concepts of changelings and secret communities, romantic and royal scandals. In the first book, we meet Finn. A dashing and brooding tracker that is dealing with his overwhelming feelings for Wendy (female lead, princess) and his position in their society. Expect a lot of tension, kisses, and then pushing away. If you continue with this series and this world the second and third book introduce a new male lead (spoiler alert!) and just how we like them—boy has a lot of trauma. What’s even better than a female lead with daddy issues? A very attractive male lead with daddy issues.

3. The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

This series is also written by Cassandra Clare—because she’s a genius and probably a goddess. In this series we have two perfect male leads‐—sounds impossible but Cassandra is a master craftsman. And even better, they are both riding on that trauma train. Jem, our very dashing violinist and orphan, is dying faster everyday but otherwise the perfect guy. Will is our very tortured, very sexy best friend to Jem. He’s the total trauma package—he pushes everyone away because he cannot allow himself to be loved by anyone (the only exception, being Jem, the one person he allows himself to be loved by—mainly because he’s already dying). He always sacrificing himself for others, while masquerading as a degenerate. I cannot recommend enough. These two characters, trauma and all, are absolute art.

4. Silver by Rhiannon Held

This was probably one of the first “adult fantasy” books I ever read. Darren is a lone wolf he doesn’t have a family and he trusts no one. He’s also a literal werewolf. Sounds like my type of guy—got to love those underlying daddy issues. After teaming up with a pretty girl who has amnesia, along with her own scars and trauma, he goes on an investigative quest for answers. Along the way he’s presented with power and authority, that he doesn’t want (or does he?), but even if he’s adamant about refusing it, he might not be able to avoid it. I love the whole I don’t need anyone trope when the truth is, he just really needs a hug.

5. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Okay, so this is our typical “love or duty?” scenario. Dimitri is broad, brooding, and very Russian. He’s a warrior dhampire (half-vampire?) and he’s at war with himself over a dhampire Rose. Dimitri is prosed with protecting the moroi (pure blood vampires?) princess, aka Rose’s bff. He cannot allow himself to love her because in a case of life or death, if he ever had to choose, he might choose Rose over the princess (i.e., love over duty). Anyways, it gets worse and more annoying through the series. I love an angsty Russian though. Definitely recommend.

6. The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter

This is for my friends who love Greek mythology, fantast, and romance. Henry, known in previous millennium as Hades (this sounds so cringey the more I write) is tasked with finding a new bride after is previous lady love, Persephone killed herself (also millennium ago). Also, in this story he apparently didn’t rape her and he feels very demonized and misunderstood. He struggles with his lingering feelings for Persephone, he feels guilty for dooming his bride to reside beside him forever in the underworld, and in general he kind of hates himself. It looks good on him though, and he is actually a very lovable character.

7. Twilight/ Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer

Here we are, the mother load of all angst. Edward Cullen. I feel like no words are necessary. He has that whole thing about hating what he is and being a monster complex. He hates that he loves Bella, but also wants to eat her. Also, he just screams sexually repressed. Its whack, and everyone has seen the movies. Let me tell you the book was better. Midnight Sun is Stephanie Meyers newest piece, retelling the iconic story through Edward’s eyes. Warning though, the amount of angst is seriously magnified when you read the story through Edward’s perspective. He seriously hates himself and I seriously enjoyed it.

8. The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Okay, so this recently became an original series on Syfy and please don’t hold this book series accountable for that. It’s no nuance November, and the book is always better. Quentin Coldwater is the most depressed, self-hating, sexually repressed character I’ve come across in a while, however, I’m here for it. This series while a little slow at first, is pretty compelling. Quentin is constantly being knocked back down and there are many chapters devoted to his self-loathing—you have to check it out!

Sarina Garnica

U Wyoming '22

Sarina is a first generation college student at the University of Wyoming. She is a criminal justice major with a strong interest in the law. She comes from a small town from Wyoming and is the middle child of eight children. She is romantic, imaginative, and determined. She also is a true crime enthusiast. She loves podcasts, books, and watching anything with subtitles. Her goal for the future is to attend law school and make great contributions to society with her work.
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